Cricket Ireland are considering legal action against a Zimbabwe publication after it published a heavily criticised article on Irish bowler John Mooney.
Ireland were playing against India in Hamilton on Tuesday when the piece by Zimbwawe Herald journalist Robson Sharuko was published online, and immediately drew widespread condemnation from its readers and across social media.
Mooney took a pivotal boundary-line catch to dismiss Sean Williams on 96 in the 47th over against Zimbabwe on Saturday, which helped Ireland seal a five-run victory that condemned the African nation to an early World Cup exit (the incident is at the end of the below video).
The piece questions Mooney's honesty following the controversy surrounding whether the fielder's foot may have been in contact with the padding on the boundary rope when the catch was taken.
Sharuko's report connects the catch to Mooney's battle with alcohol and depression, which the Ireland fast bowler bravely detailed on radio in a bid to raise awareness about mental health issues for cricketers.
Quick Single: Mooney reveals battle with depression
The personal nature of the accusations prompted Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom to speak out.
"In relation to the story that has appeared in today’s Zimbabwe Herald, it would be easy to dismiss it as a childish diatribe if it wasn’t for the vicious personal attack on John which cannot pass without comment, and possible action," Deutrom said in a statement.
"John represents his country with honour, distinction and integrity. That he does in the face of personal challenges about which he has spoken openly and movingly demonstrates incredible hard work and great courage.
"We understand, as does John, that public figures may occasionally be subject to negative comment, but in mocking John in such a contemptuous fashion, and using his personal difficulties as a mere punchline, the Zimbabwe Herald has demonstrated breath-taking crassness and a gross error of editorial judgement.
"We have made contact with ICC to understand what remedies might be available to us."
Zimbabwe play their final pool match against India at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday.
Zimbabwe batsman Williams walked off the pitch in Hobart but there was confusion as the umpires had seemed to motion for a third umpire review.
Television replays of the catch were inconclusive but there existed some doubt as to whether Mooney's left foot had been in contact with the padding around the boundary rope.
Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor, who today apologised on behalf of his team for the article, opted to blame his side's poor effort in the field for the loss as Ireland posted 8-331.
"We were shambolic to be honest, in the field," Taylor said after the match.
"Again we've dropped chances at crucial times and that was the difference between Ireland and us. I think they were more hungry and they were a bit more energetic ... hence why they got over the line."
On behalf of the Zimbabwe cricket team.We just want to express our apologies to @Irelandcricket and John Mooney for the unacceptable article— Brendan Taylor (@BrendanTaylor86) March 11, 2015
It is not the first time Herald reporter Sharuko, who is following the Zimbabwean team through the World Cup, has courted controversy.
In 2012, Sharuko was handed a life ban by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) for his alleged role in the 'Asiagate' match-fixing scandal that saw Zimbabwe’s national football team lose matches in Asia. That decision was overturned by Fifa, football's world governing body in 2013.
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